Who am I and why the hell should you care about reading my blog?

Avid motorcyclist & freelance writer, specializing in motorcycles & motorcycle related topics, with a healthy dose of good humor, good vibes & general advice on simply being a good person.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Hyenas need love too


A while back, I made a comment at work that garnered quite the response. In a,
perhaps not so common, conversation about people and their importance in this world, I made the observation that everyone is special, to someone. While that may not have been an interesting enough comment to be the basis for a blog post, what followed next, certainly was. One of my sharp witted and borderline cynical co-workers challenged my, very generic and ubiquitously bland, comment so I simply replied with the observation that, "even a little orphaned kid in Kenya is important to the hyenas."

Yep. I said that. 

Now, before you allow complete and utter repulsion to set in, allow me to elabortate...

You see, despite what we tell ourselves about how advanced of a species we are and regardless of how we groom, dress, live and even die, we are all still just creatures in nature. We are all still links in the natural food chain of the world. We are simply meat, blood and bones and if you don't believe that, then I'm sorry to be the one to inform you that grizzly bears, great white sharks, tigers and Jeffrey Dahmer would strongly disagree. You don't have to like it, but truth and reality do not require our permission.

So yeah, everybody is special...to somebody... even if that "somebody" happens to be a hungry animal trying to survive another day in the wild. 

With that observation made... and for anyone still reading... I offer this- what makes us think that we are better than the ferocious carnivores that we share this earth with? Is it because we are super smart and we build things? Maybe it's because we live in houses or drive cars? Perhaps it's because we groom ourselves, shave our body hair or buy our food from a store? But, not all those things apply to every human, do they? Is it because we are sentient creatures? Creatures of thought, memory, emotion and intellect? There are a lot of creatures in God's world that are capable of, and possess, those same traits. 

It's all about perception and perspective. Hyenas hunt and kill the weakest prey they can find... be it a slow running wildabeast, or an orphan kid from a local village. They don't distinguish one from the other. They aren't psychopathic monsters.  They are just ornery dogs with really bad posture that are hungry and trying to survive. What they kill and eat is not relevant to them... it's just meat, blood and bones that contain life sustaining nutrients. Our perception is what is different. A fellow human that is killed and eaten by wild animals is more offensive to us than an animal being killed and eaten. Hell, we even have weird perceptions about what we kill and eat. Think about it- some people are offended about other people eating cows and pigs. 

Like I said- perception and perspective. Animals don't know the differences because they don't have any pre-conceived, or self-taught perceptions on what is, and what is not, okay to have for dinner. We do. For example- Dahmer knew better. He knew he wasn't supposed to kill and eat people... civilized society told him not to, but he did it anyway because he was crazy. But the hyenas and other wild animals don't live in a civilized society and they aren't taught which animals to kill and eat, and which ones not to.

Civilized society is what makes us special- not our cars, houses, clothes, grooming habits, jobs, tech or anything else. Civilization is the key. What makes us civilized is how we treat each other. Treating other people with respect, compassion, empathy and kindness is what makes us civilized. Turn on the local news for ten minutes and you can quickly see that our society is on the verge of losing it's cvilization. People are victimizing each other over some of the dumbest shit. We kill each other over nothing... and we act as if we are better than the wild animals. I don't know about you, but I never heard of a great white shark attacking and killing another shark over "territory" and I've never heard of a mama grizzly bear attacking or killing her own cubs, but I've seen that kind of stuff more than I care to admit within our so-called civilized society. With that said, though... it's not all grim. Bears, sharks, tigers and hyena's don't give their own blood to help others; they don't gather and share food for those among them that can't; they don't have creatures among them whose sole purpose it to protect the weakest among them, or die trying, from those that wish to do them harm. So in that sense, we as a society, are special.

When you look out at your neighbors, friends, co-workers and even the strangers walking along the street- be civilized. Treat each other well. Stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves and remember that everyone is dealing with their own struggles. You might be the person who changes someone else's attitude. I know it sounds cliche, but how hard is it to practice a little kindness? It doesn't cost you anything to tell someone to have a good day, or to wish them safe travels. It doesn't even take that much time out of your life. When you're in the checkout line at the grocery store, what's the harm in telling the cashier thanks for what they do? Maybe tell the kid sweeping the floor or cleaning up a mess that you appreciate what he's doing... does it hurt, or does it make him feel appreciated for an otherwise thankless job? 

Simple kindness is all that I'm talking about. Small, effortless acts that cost you nothing but pay you back in dividends. What makes you special is how you treat people. If you're known for being a selfish jerk, then you might just be left all alone when you're at your weakest, left to defend yourself against the hyenas of the world that are only looking at you for the sustainance that they can get from you, before they leave you for dead... figuratively or literally.

Be kind. Be good. Be civilized.

Ride safe, make good choices and most of all... be a good person.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Dyna Update!

Fork seals

Ugh. Hydraulic forks are the best... until they're not. Most people will ride their motorcycles for years without ever even servicing them. The maintenance is pretty straightforward, most of the routine services simply require draining the old fluid and replacing it with fresh stuff, which, in a lot of cases, can be done without even taking the forks off the bike. Most fork seals last for years, and for thousands of miles, as long as the fork tubes are kept clean and free of debris.

But if you're a project hunter, like me, who can't turn down a great deal on a bike that needs a little love, chances are, you're gonna be doing a helluva lot more than simply swapping fluid. I've got two such bikes sitting in my garage, right now. One, is an '06 Sportster that I picked up for less than $2k a few years ago, and the other is an '11 Dyna Street Bob that I added to the stable a couple years later. Both of them were complete, but in deplorable condition- rust and corrosion was rampant on both, neither was running and both of them had been neglected for several years. But... I got them cheap and trusted myself with being able to get them back on the road, which I did. 

Both bikes have been awesome, but both have had the common issue of fork seal leakage, in part because I half-assed the job the first time on both bikes. Let me explain.


When I first got the Sportster, the fork tubes were obviously roached. They were pitted with rust from top to bottom. The sliders were fine, but the tubes were simply beyond repair. Where I half-assed it, was I stupidly went on eBay in an attempt to save a few bucks and bought a set of used tubes that were significantly better than mine. With a new set of Genuine James Gasket seals and my new used tubes, I put her back together with some fresh 10w oil and she was good to go, for a few years anyway. After a few years of riding, one of the seals sprung a, very minor, leak. It was just minor enough to make me doubt if it was actually leaking, but after a few months, I realized that I was going to be doing a fork seal job again. 


When I first picked up the Dyna- a 2011 FXDB Street Bob- I already had some knowledge of the bike's history. I bought it from a friend who, several years earlier, had bought it from a local Harley-Davidson dealership. He was the second owner of the bike and I was actually with him when he bought it. As it turned out, he didn't ride the bike as much as he thought he would and it ended up sitting in his driveway under a bike cover... for years. I hadn't seen the bike since he bought it and had no idea how bad of condition it was in before I agreed to buy it. It really didn't matter to me though, because for the price he was asking, it was worth it. When I first saw the bike, I was in awe of how bad it was. For a bike that was only 7 years old with less than 10k miles, it looked as if it had been abandoned in a field for a decade. I guess that's a drawback of living in the south, near the Gulf of Mexico- the salty, humid air makes short work of corroding metal. The ethanol based gasoline did it's own damage to the inside of the fuel tank, but that's a story for another day. 

The fork tubes didn't look too bad at first glance- the uppers were a little spotty, but the lower sides looked fine, even though they were both leaking. I assumed that the seals were leaking due to being dry rotted, and I wasn't completely wrong, so in my eagerness to ride the bike, I bought a set of Genuine James fork seals for it, then tore it down and put it all back together in an afternoon. I was stoked to ride it... for a few hours anyway. I assumed that the problem was with the seals, since I had previously installed a set of the same brand on the Sporty and they were now leaking after only a couple of years of riding. In my frustration, I cussed the Genuine James Gasket Company for all they were worth, then went online to do some research.

The Sporty fork saga, continued

Having had my fill of frustrations with the James Gasket seals, all my research pointed me to ordering a set of All Balls Racing seals for my trusty little XL. Once I got it tore down, however, I quickly realized that the seals weren't the problem. Apparently, something (probably sand, since I live near, and often ride beside, a beach) had gotten under the dust seal and made a nice little scratch on one of the tubes. The eBay tubes, if I'm guessing by their appearance, were most likely show chrome which is pretty, but not the most durable for a machine that is ridden a lot, so I bit the bullet and ordered a set of new hard chrome tubes, made by Hard Drive. I put it all back together with some 15w, for a little better dampening. She rides better than a new bike now...with no leaks!

The daggum Dyna

I like this damn bike, a lot, but boy it sure makes me cuss sometimes. After getting the new seals, I tore the forks down and, after a quick inspection of the tubes, put it all back together with the new All Balls Racing seals. Success! No more leaking! I was ecstatic... such a simple fix... 

...or so I thought.

Within about a month of riding, that familiar old bead of oil showed up on the high side tube again. I put the bike back on the lift, pulled it apart for what felt like the hundredth time, and inspected it like a jeweler inspecting a diamond. All of a sudden, I saw it- a small, barely noticeable, chip in the chrome, just above where the seal sets when the bike is at rest. The chip was small, only about a millimeter in diameter and was barely discolored, making it hard to spot with a quick visual inspection. The location was such that, when the bike was rolling on relatively smooth roads, the seal didn't cross over the chip, but when the fork compressed under a harder bump, the seal crossed the chip and a tiny bit of oil would leak past. 

As I dragged my fingernail across the chip, I felt it catch the edge and at that moment, I knew that I had, now twice, cussed the Genuine James Gasket Company in error. Oops... sorry guys.

I did my best to try to smooth and polish out the chip, to no avail- it continued leaking, so I called my local indie shop, French & Son's, and ordered a new set of Hard Drive hard chrome tubes and a new set of All Balls fork seals. Once I had them back in the shop, I put the Street Bob back on the lift, tore it down for what felt like the millionth time, and went to work. Having pulled the forks apart so many times, it didn't take me long to install the new tubes and seals. I topped it all off with some fresh 15w fork oil, put it all back together and rolled it off the lift... again. This time it's (finally) fixed and now it rides better than a new bike, too. 

The lesson learned

My dad used to tell me that if you're going to do something, do it right the first time. Well, for the Sportster, the biggest mistake I made was trying to save a few bucks by buying a set of cheap, used fork tubes. In my defense, they lasted a few years before they got scratched. That could have happened to anyone, I suppose, but by buying the tubes used from an individual, I had no specs on them and ended up buying a set of nice looking, but not very durable, show chrome fork tubes that were susceptible to getting scratched. With the Dyna, however, I'll admit that I half-assed it from the jump. I should have taken the time to inspect the fork tubes before I ever put it back together the very first time, but I was trying to save time and money so that could get back to riding the bike as quickly as possible. In doing so, I ended up having to do the job, way more times than I should have. Besides the aggravation, I also wasted valuable time and money on seals and oil. 

Now that both of the bikes are back together, I can focus on actually riding them. Maybe, while I'm out riding, I'll stumble across another project bike that I can tinker with. One thing's for sure though, if I do get my hands on another crusty project, I won't be cutting any corners when dealing with hydraulic fork tubes... I might just go with a springer front end, instead!

Regardless of what you might find yourself working on next, remember this:

If you do it right the first time, you'll only have to do it one time

Saturday, December 11, 2021

I'm Still Here (sort of)

Low Power Mode

Have you ever just felt... "disconnected" from certain things? That's where I'm at right now. Maybe it's because I've been super busy at my real job, or maybe it's because I haven't been able to ride as much lately, but whatever it is, it's got me feeling like a cell phone with a low battery. I'm in low-power mode and I'm sending less energy to certain things that seem to drain my battery the most. Things like social media. In diverting energy away from things that seem to suck away time and positivity, my daily life has felt more enriched. I know it might sound like I'm about to start preaching about the evils of Facegram, Instabook, SnapApp and Whatschat (names mixed on purpose), and maybe I am a little... but the truth is, how much better were we as a society before these things first launched? 

***RANT ALERT***RANT ALERT*** RANT IN 3...2...1... 

My facebook feed is full of ads, pissy comments from keyboard warriors, fake virtue signaling from self-righteous people and guilt-driven modern day chain letters. GEEEEEZUS. How did a platform with such great potential to keep friends and family connected, turn into a giant pot full of shit and shit-stirrers? And what about Instagram? That feed is full of short videos of people trying to sell themselves as the next up and coming "influencers" by dancing, shaking their asses and... get this... lip-syncing to everything from gangster rap to movie lines. Lip-syncing for crying out loud! Back in the late '80's, Milli-Vanilli got BASHED for lip-syncing, but now people are literally becoming famous for it. 

Good grief. 

 Snapchat seems to be the main source of infidelity and fake face filters that are circulating everywhere (for the love of all that is good and right, why does everyone have cartoon puppy faces these days?) and don't get me started on the ole stand-by video source of YouTube... you can't watch a 3 minute video without having to sit through a minute worth of ads! Not to mention, it seems like somebody took the "sex sells" mantra and applied it to every video that is uploaded. They add click bait teasers to the intros and the content usually sucks. I don't mean to generalize... there are some great content creators out there, but it's getting increasingly difficult to find their stuff among the piles and piles of digitally uploaded garbage. And for shit sake... can someone please create a video, post a TikTok, upload a picture to Instagram or make a Facebook post WITHOUT trying to get my money?!? For f*@k sake... every time I turn around, somebody is after my last damn dollar! Subscriptions, promotions, ads, click bait, buy now, special offer, rebates, blah...blah...blah. Give me a break!

***RANT OVER***(maybe)

The Bag is FULL

My dad used to tell me, "you can't fit ten pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag" and, I'll be honest, I used to wonder why anyone was putting shit in a bag, but as I got older, I realized that he meant "stuff" but it's just more fun to use profanity. I'm pretty sure I've reached a point where my bag is full, but ironically, the bag has been getting filled with shit instead of the good stuff. I'm tired of all the garbage out there and I'm sick of trying to sort through it all. I've realized that my mental health has improved, my energy levels have increased, my attitude is better and my general outlook feels more positive, just by taking a break from it all. 


Look, I'm not telling you how to spend your time and I'm not trying to convince you that you shouldn't "do" the whole social media thing. You might just be the next person to launch some incredible career or become the next multi-millionaire by posting some cool video, taking some amazing photo or posting some amazingly insightful knowledge that could change the world... but for me, I'm thinking that, for where I am in my life right now, maybe less is more. Maybe less bullshit distractions might mean I'll have more time to enjoy the good distractions. Maybe by having a lot less negativity coming at me all of the time, might give me more room to grow and put more positive vibes out into the world around me. Maybe by not being tempted to buy a bunch of shit that I don't need, or never even knew that I wanted, might give me more money to save up for the things that really matter- family vacations, retirement, home improvements or maybe even another motorcycle ;-). 


Either way... you will probably be seeing a lot less of me on the socials... and I might even end up shutting them down altogether. 


The Blog

As for the MotoWriter blog, well, it'll still be here. This is a place that I do enjoy. It's a non-intrusive little platform where I can put out some insight and positivity, and it's something that I really do enjoy, so this little corner of the interwebs is safe for the foreseeable future. Honestly, I never thought this blog would have the reach that it's had... it's had somewhere over 23 thousand visits (as of this posting date) since it first went live just over a year and a half ago. Visitors from, literally, all over the world have stopped in and read my simple words and I appreciate that more than you know. The fact that you all have taken a few minutes of your precious time to sit down and read my words is truly humbling and I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to think that maybe, juuuusssst maybe, I might have said something to inspire someone to do something cool, or to make their lives, or the outlook on their situation, a little better.


I don't want your money, I don't want to distract you and I don't want to fill your bags with shit. So, if you see my socials fade away, you'll know why... but you'll still be able to find me right here at www.theMotoWriter.com. 


Fill your bags with positivity, happy memories, life experiences and lessons learned. 


Ride safe and make good choices, y'all.

JD, aka The MotoWriter